John Lackey makes Red Sox spring debut

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John Lackey, signed to a five-year, $82.5 million contract in December, made his debut in a Red Sox uniform on Saturday.

He did quite well, needing just 19 pitches (11 strikes) to cruise through two innings of work against the Twins.  The right-hander collected one strikeout, two flyouts, and forced three groundouts.

“I felt like my delivery was on time, fastball was coming out pretty
decent for the first time,” Lackey said after the outing. “Just a good starting step.”

Lackey stuck mostly to his two-seam and four-seam fastball while also working in a few curves.  Red Sox manager Terry Francona has not yet decided where his three potential No. 1 starters — Lackey, Jon Lester and Josh Beckett — will fit into Boston’s 2010 rotation, but it really doesn’t matter all that much.  The Sox are stacked again, even more so with Lackey and his 3.81 career ERA on board, and should contend for the AL East crown all season long.

Report: Phillies interested in Manny Machado; Orioles have done homework on Phillies’ minor league system

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Orioles third baseman Manny Machado will become a free agent after the 2018 season and there hasn’t been much in the way of progress on a contract extension between the two sides. It seems as if Machado will test the open market next offseason.

The Phillies, currently with relatively minuscule obligations for the 2018 season and beyond, are expected to be big players for Machado, as well as other potential free agents like Bryce Harper. In fact, the Phillies may not even want to wait until next offseason, as Roch Kubatko of MASN reports that the club has expressed interest in Machado to the Orioles. In return, the O’s have been doing their homework on the Phillies’ minor league system.

Kubatko notes that the Orioles like, in particular, Phillies prospects Sixto Sanchez and Scott Kingery. The Phillies may be hesitant to part with either considering they can get Machado for a lot of cash but no prospects next winter. MLB Pipeline rates Sanchez as the Phillies’ best pitching prospect and the second-best prospect overall in the system. Kingery is third overall and the top infielder. While the Phillies’ system is among the best in baseball, its notable weakness is pitching, so parting with Sanchez — who throws in the upper 90’s and can hit triple digits — would be a big ask. Kingery is seen as the club’s next second baseman of the future, so much so that the Phillies are shopping Cesar Hernandez at the Winter Meetings.

As usual with rumors during the Winter Meetings, there may be some smoke but no actual fire here. The Orioles are likely to get continued interest in Machado from many teams between now and the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. They are simply doing their due diligence by seeing what the Phillies and others have to offer for Machado.